Harry Kullijian, Arts Advocate and Husband of Carol Channing, Dies at 91

By Kenneth Jones
27 Dec 2011

Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian in 2007
Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian in 2007
Photo by Joseph Marzullo

Harry Kullijian, co-founder of the Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts and husband of the stage and screen star Carol Channing, died Dec. 26 at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, due to internal bleeding caused by an aneurysm. He was 91.

The late-life romance of Channing and Mr. Kullijian, who were childhood friends reunited after more than half a century, is featured in the coming documentary film "Larger Than Life" by director Dori Berinstein. A Jan. 20, 2012, release is expected.

Mr. Kullijian and his wife dedicated recent years to their goal of establishing support for arts in education. Their mission was to tell the world that exposure to arts would benefit students in other scholastic and social areas.

Among other things, The Channing/Kullijian Foundation established scholarships, produced a critically acclaimed PSA and inspired a resolution authored by Rep. Jackie Speier, which passed the House and the Senate in December 2010, according to a spokesman.



Mr. Kullijian was raised and educated in San Francisco and entered the military in 1942 upon graduation from the University of San Francisco. He earned three battle stars including China, Burma and India. He returned home and became a real estate broker and building contractor before being recalled to the European theatre of operations during the Korean conflict.

Harry and Gerry Amos were married in 1942. He returned to his birthplace following his tour of duty and began farming after a move to Modesto with his family in 1955.

A religious man, Mr. Kullijian became involved in many programs for social causes and community affairs. He was elected to the Modesto City Council and served two terms. Following his political career, he began a battle against pornography. He was one of the founders of CLEAN (Citizens Leading Effective Action Now).

After the death of his wife, Gerry in June 2002, he was reunited with his junior high school sweetheart, Carol Channing, the Tony Award-winning star of Hello, Dolly! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The two were married in May 2003 and in 2005 started the not-for-profit Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts.

Mr. Kullijian is survived by two children, John Kullijian, of Richmond, TX, and Leslee "Missie" Fennell of Los Altos, CA; five grandchildren, Casey (Gary) Hill, Kelly (Chris) Confair and Tiffany (Sheldon) Epperly; and Jonathan and Thomas Fennell as well as five great-grandchildren.

No services will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to The Channing-Kullijian Foundation, 101 First Street #555, Los Altos, CA., 94022. Visit channingarts.org.